You may not know this, but search giant Google has a wealth of tools and resources on its website for keeping your children (or yourself) safe online, and managing your online reputation.
One helpful section, titled “Me on the Web”, can be used as an ultra simple first step in reputation management, and we recommend parents try it, particularly if your children are nearing the age when college applications or a first job search are going to be part of the landscape.
Me on the Web, is separated into three sections, the first one being “Search for yourself”. Ego surfing, or Googling yourself, is nothing new, but we know from talking to hundreds of parents that many don’t think to do it for their kids. It’s a good idea, as the first step in online reputation management is seeing yourself as others see you in a Google search. Go ahead and try it. If there is anything on the first page of Google results that gives you pause, either positive or negative, it was worth doing.
The second section, “Manage web alerts”, is a shortcut to setting up a Google alert for your child’s name. It works fine as is for uncommon names, but if your son is named “Dave Smith” or something common, you can add a geographic qualifier like “Dave Smith NJ” or “Dave Smith Princeton”. You’ll get a new Google alert via email when new web content is posted that corresponds to your alert.
The third section is “Review your Google+ profile”. Not a Google+ user? Not so fast. Anyone with a Gmail account, or who has uploaded or commented on a YouTube video, has some sort of Google+ identity whether he uses it or not.
The foundation for managing your online reputation is to see yourself how others see you online. Google has made the first steps very easy. If you have questions about some troubling content, would like to craft a more favorable online image, or if you would like to do a deeper dive, please feel free to send us an email here.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.